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Jess Parsons - Dressage

September has been a month for a step back from competition and time to concentrate on training. 

We have been working incredibly hard during ‘boot camp’ on improving our schooling work with the help of Tom Buckland. In recent times Tilly had learnt to drop me when we entered a test environment. Tom has been great and has been helping me by schooling Tilly once a week followed by a lesson. Seeing Tom ride Tilly has been such a great help over the past month and seeing how well she can go and has the ability to go is great to watch and has given me hope that she can go further than I expected.  Our lessons that have followed have been great, Tilly is so much more reactive to my aids during the work. We have even started to teach her to do flying changes!! They are still very much a working progress but we are teaching them to her to make her more buzzy as she is so laid back which is lovely but sometimes an extra bit of spark in needed!

To see if our hard work paid off we attended a British Dressage test riding clinic. It was held at a local yard about a half an hour hack away from us so we had a slightly different warm up than normal of a canter across the fields on route to the venue. When we arrived we had a quick 15 minute proper warm up where I was so determined to have a productive session and Tilly was not going to drop me.  We went in to the arena for our test and Tilly was so much more forward thinking than she has ever been. The test went really well and at no point did she consider dropping me which was great, at one point she almost took off with me in the canter which sounds stupid but I was very happy with! We scored 67.92% and received some great feedback from Tessa Thorn followed by a quick lesson. It was lovely to hear from Tessa that we were doing everything right with her. We cooled down by jumping a couple of logs  in the wood and a canter back across the fields.   Like all dressage horses do!! 

We have been trying to improve Tilly’s  fitness work this month by cantering once a week. We are very lucky to live very close to the Cotswold Way and Tyndale Monument which offers a great opportunity for canter work and hill work.   At the end of last year we had a slight mishap while in the woods when Tilly became spooked and went backwards resulting in us falling down a steep bank. Luckily help was close by and we got up safe and sound with a few scrapes and a bit shaken!  So it has taken me a bit of time to be brave enough to go back along the track. But so far so good and being able to canter across the hills and different ground has really helped to improve Tilly’s fitness.

I have continued to school Bud once a week for his owner Julie. He is super cheeky but such a lovely horse to ride. We have got to know each other a lot more this month and hopefully his work is improving. Its great to ride him and he is quite different compared to Tilly so it allows me to develop my riding further. 

September last year was a very different time for us when Tilly became very ill and ended up being rushed down to B&W with suspected colic. Fortunately she scanned clear but they kept her in overnight. During the night she ran a high temperature and became more  un-well and was moved to the isolation unit where she remained for the week. It was so hard going to see her but not being able to give her a polo, carrot or a hug! It was an incredibly worrying time. We think she had an imbalance in her system that caused her to become ill. She was also scoped while she was there which showed some ulcer damage. 

However, this month will mark a year of Tilly being all clear of any further problems and being as health and happy as she has ever been.     

During the whole of September I have tried my hardest not to clip my fur ball of a pony but finally on the last day of the month I couldn’t wait any longer! She now looking super smart with her new hair cut. 

We are looking forward to a busy October with more training and some competitions and BYRDS training ahead.   

I hope everyone has had a good September and has a great October. Jess xx

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